Eliminating Quackery in Nigeria

Security operatives recently arrested one Martins Okpeh, a 44-year-old secondary school certificate holder, for pretending to be a medical doctor for nine years.

Okpeh, before his arrest, had even risen to become the chairman of a branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

Police investigation reveals that the suspect allegedly stole copies of the medical and academic credentials of his childhood friend, Dr George Davidson, a practising medical doctor in Jos which he used to secure employment in the Federal Ministry of Health.

Mr Abayomi Shogunle, Chief Superintendent of Police, said investigation conducted through the records available at the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, showed that Okpeh adopted the identity of Dr Davidson.

Observers, however, express concern about increasing cases of such quacks, noting that they exist in all professions.

According to them, the possible side effects of quackery -- deliberate deception--could be as extreme as death.

With its grievous effects on the society, the NMA says it will sponsor an anti-quackery bill that will give legal backing to the fight against it in the medical profession.

Mr Osahon Enabulele, the president of the association, said that the association would come up with programmes that would enable it to declare war on quackery soon.

``Part of the programme will be to sponsor an anti-quackery bill in the National Assembly to get legal backing for the fight against quackery.

He observed that the effects of quackery on the society were enormous that often caused untold hardship to the citizenry.

In the same vein, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) recently discovered no fewer than 1,000 fake lawyers through the association’s stamp policy inaugurated on April 15.

Mr Akintokunbo Oluwole, a former Vice-President of NBA, announced the discovery while delivering an address at a special court sitting to mark the opening of the 2015/2016 Legal Year in Akure.

He noted that quackery had eaten deep into the fabric of the legal profession and must be addressed immediately.

According to him, fake lawyers have even devised various means to scuttle the implementation of stamp policy without success.

Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Abdul-Waheed Odusile during the campaign preceding his election as President of Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), stressed the need for leaders in all media houses to fight quackery.

He said that it was necessary for the leadership of NUJ to be credible, noting that prospective members of the union should be properly screened to avoid quackery.

Odusile, however, said he would flush out quacks from the profession and appealed to stakeholders to help in that regard.

He stated that the NUJ would need the support of government, especially the lawmakers, in making a legislation to deal with the menace of quackery in the profession.

Also, Prof. Vincent Asor, President, Council of Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria, expressed concern about the rate of increase of quacks in Information Technology.

``Quacks can be classified in several forms, we have people who are true professionals but still engage in the act of quackery.

``We have people who are not professionals, but claim to be professionals and engage in the act of quackery.

``Then we have those people who are not anywhere and they come to learn the trade and because of their intelligence, they engage in the act of quackery,’’ he observed.

Corroborating this viewpoint, Mr Friday Chukwu, a civil engineer, argued that there were such categories of people described by Asor in building industry.

He noted that the activities of such quacks had led to cases of building collapse in many parts of the country.

``In Lagos alone, more than 140 building collapse cases have been reported over the past seven years; an average of 20 reported cases per year,’’ he said.

He cautioned the public that people should not assume that every person handling building tools at construction sites was an engineer.

He also observed that the issue of premature loading was responsible for building collapse in some cases.

According to him, premature loading is when an engineer does not allow a casting to dry to some extent and gain the required strength before laying another structure on it.

Alhaji Bello Mahmud, the Registrar General of Corporation Affairs Commission, however, said that the commission would collaborate with other regulatory and professional bodies to check the activities of quacks.

Irrespective of any collaboration, Prof. Peter Nwilo, Surveyor-General of the Federation, blamed the Nigerian society for contributing largely to the prevalence of quackery in most professions in the country.

According to him, Nigerians’ likeness for patronising cheap things encourages quackery because they like to price professional services low.

``Those who accept to do professional jobs at cheap rates turn out to be non-professionals who pretend to offer professional services but cannot be held responsible since they are not registered by the appropriate authorities,’’ he said recently in a forum in Abuja.

By and large, Mr Winston Ayeni, Registrar, Surveyors Council of Nigeria, explained that the council had been making efforts with some agencies and state governments to check the high prevalence of quackery by moderating the fees charged by professionals.

Femi Ogunshola/NAN